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Sophie Student

North Carolina Emphatically Wins NCAA Championship Game Rematch

March 3, 2023
Evan Rogers
Peyton Williams

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — For the past four years, North Carolina and Boston College women’s lacrosse have come accustomed to competing against one another on the highest stage. 

The Tar Heels prevailed over the Eagles in last year’s national championship game, serving as revenge for Boston College’s pair of triumphs against UNC in the 2021 and 2019 national semifinal games. During the stretch that’s seen the conference foes meet countless times in the postseason, the two programs have each been led by a core figure.  

But with the departure of Jamie Ortega — North Carolina’s all-time leading scorer — and two-time Tewaaraton Award winner Charlotte North exhausting her eligibility with the Eagles last year, Friday night’s regular season contest at Dorrance Field saw a plethora of new faces thrown into greater roles.

In what turned into a lopsided affair quickly, a trio of hat tricks and a suffocating backline helped the top-ranked Tar Heels dismantle No. 4 Boston College 16-5. 

“We have players that are really high-end and elite, but they play off of each other and they’re unselfish,” said UNC head coach Jenny Levy, who picked up her 400th career win in the one-sided contest. “That’s our system. It’s never really about one player.”

With junior attacker Caitlyn Wurzburger sidelined with a boot on her right foot, several Tar Heels were tasked with filling the void left by North Carolina’s leading point-getter.

Initially, the Tar Heels looked to their star freshman, Marissa White. The second-ranked prospect worked her way left of cage before bouncing in UNC’s first goal less than one minute into the game. 

White’s early connection propelled her to the top of UNC’s goals chart on the young season. Many of the budding attackers’ teammates have credited her polished scoring ability to her maturity. 

“Obviously she’s such a skilled player, but I think ultimately, her mentality is so strong,” senior midfielder Nicole Humphrey said. “She doesn’t play like a freshman, and she doesn’t think like a freshman. The plays she makes are top-level, high-level stuff.”

Soon after, another first-year Tar Heel joined in on North Carolina’s scoring barrage. Junior midfielder Sophie Student found herself on the cusp of the crease after breaking down her defender in an isolation set. The former Virginia Tech Hokie then dribbled in UNC’s second goal before emphatically tossing her stick to the turf.

For Student, playing in the storied rivalry on the field — rather than viewing from afar — gave her an extra boost.

“I loved watching these games, like the championship, for the past few years,” she said. “Finally being able to like be in the environment is just like a dream come true. Carolina lacrosse doesn’t get much better than this.” 

Student soon notched her second goal of the night late in the first period and the Tar Heels catapulted themselves to a nine-goal lead by the break. 

Overshadowed by UNC’s offensive explosion was the play of the Tar Heels’ defense and sophomore goalkeeper Alecia Nicholas. Entering Friday’s bout, North Carolina ranked sixth in the country in goals allowed per contest, and through three periods, the Eagles found the back of the cage just three times. 

“Defense is hard to play in our sports,” Levy said. “We talk about fundamental defense in executing your job, and it’s hard to do in lacrosse with women’s [rules]. Our guys have worked hard.”

Last season, the Tar Heels and Eagles were separated by only a single goal in two of their contests. This time around, North Carolina earned a running clock by the final period.

Despite UNC’s dominant win, Levy harped that her team still has a long way to go, namely in improving on finishing assisted goal opportunities. Though North Carolina’s head coach understands each team will bring its best shot to the top-ranked team in the country, Levy knows the Tar Heels’ statement win over Boston College reinforces an important notion within her own locker room. 

“The standard will always be the standard,” Levy said. “I’m really proud of what they did tonight.”